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Originally published Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 12:41 PM

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Mars rover Curiosity drills hole in rock in a test

The Curiosity rover has drilled a test hole in a Martian rock in preparation for the real thing.

The Associated Press

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PASADENA, Calif. —

The Curiosity rover has drilled a test hole in a Martian rock in preparation for the real thing.

Images released Thursday by NASA showed a ring of powder that was generated by the drill at the end of the rover's robotic arm. The hole measured less than an inch deep.

Scientists planned to analyze the latest activity - dubbed a "mini drill test" - before commanding Curiosity to drill deeper. One of its major tasks is to drill into a rock and transfer the ground-up powder to its onboard laboratories for analysis - a first on Mars.

Curiosity landed in an ancient crater near the Martian equator last year on a mission to gauge whether environmental conditions were favorable for microbes.

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